Adoption…supposedly the magic cure for those who cannot have children. It’s time someone put an end to this misconception, and I’m here to do my part.
Before you think I’m anti-adoption I’m most certainly not. Adoption is a beautiful, wonderful calling, but it’s just that…a calling…and shouldn’t be viewed as simply “plan B” for infertile couples.
I really get aggravated at people…who usually have biological children… who think adoption is the natural cure for those of us who could never produce our own offspring. This attitude is widespread in the Christian church. I have experienced a judgmental attitude from folks in the church who think that since my husband and I could not have biological children that we should have adopted…and “why haven’t you?” It’s a very rude inference about a very private matter.
Adoption is a road fraught emotional turmoil, financial strain, and a massive invasion of privacy. If every couple had to go through an adoption-style pre-screening before they were allowed to have biological children I daresay there would be a lot less people in the world. Adoption is not for the faint of heart or faint of pocketbook.
Sometimes I meet other infertile couples who are hanging all of their hope on adopting a baby. I become very concerned for them, because I know that desperation. First of all, a childless couple has probably gone through several months to years of infertility treatment and are already on an emotional low ebb. Add on top of that the arduous process of adoption which can still leave a couple with empty arms even after a promised child is born or “placed” by an agency then you have a recipe for emotional and spiritual exhaustion from which some never recover.
I come to these conclusions from experience. After dealing with infertility for several years my husband and I endured two adoption attempts. The first one involved a pregnant teenager who was referred to us by a friend. We actually met her, talked at length, and started the process of an open adoption. However, two weeks later she changed her mind. I was grateful that she changed her mind before we spent a lot of money and before the baby was born. It could’ve been worse, but it was still devastating.
The second experience involved a Honduran child. My husband went on a mission trip to Honduras in 2001. The host missionaries were family friends of my husband’s family. They had informed us that a woman they knew was desperately wishing to give her baby up for adoption to an American couple. The missionaries instantly thought of us. The child was born, and the mother named the child Eduardo…the Spanish version of my husband’s name “Edward”. As we were going through the preliminary steps to adopt Eduardo the Honduran government closed their country to adoption because so many women were selling their babies on the black market. The Honduran solution was to not allow any infants to leave the country. Another door slammed in our face.
I was done…completely and utterly emotionally exhausted after nine years of attempting to build our family with no success. It was around this time that I started having anxiety attacks. Further evidence that my emotional reserves were at zero. For my mental health and the health of our marriage we had to stop considering adoption…at least actively… and move on to lives that would not include children.
With that said I know several couples who have had fairy tale experiences with adoption. My husband’s cousin and his wife, who are also infertile, had a wonderful experience with open adoption in 2003. We were so excited for them. I even threw them a baby shower…something I had been previously unable to do for friends or family when I was actively dealing with my infertility. This couple will tell you that the process was arduous and emotionally exhausting even though their experience ended with a beautiful baby girl in their arms.
I just worry about the motivation behind adoption at times especially for infertile couples. If you are simply adopting to fulfill your own desires is that truly a good reason to adopt? It’s the same question anyone should ask before they have a biological child. If you are expecting a child to fulfill all YOUR emotional needs then you’re going to be greatly disappointed whether you have them biologically or through adoption. People make the same mistake when it comes to marriage too…expecting a human being to meet all their emotional needs. It usually ends in disaster for everyone involved.
Sometimes I think the best qualified couples when it comes to adoption are those who have already had biological children. Most of these families adopt mainly because they want to give a child a loving family meaning their motives are more altruistic. That’s not always the case, but I think of Steven Curtis Chapman’s family who adopted based on their daughter’s heart brokenness over the plight of children in the third world. They are now very outspoken advocates of adoption for the sake of the children.
Again, I want to reiterate that adoption is a beautiful calling, and when people who are called to adoption expand their family by adoption it’s one of the most beautiful things you’ll ever see.